O.R.k – Ramagehead review

A bittersweet, lean, mean classic rock –prog machine 8/10ORk band

O.R.k: effectively a supergroup comprising of Italy’s celebrated vocalist, producer and award-winning film score composer Lorenzo Esposito Fornasari (LEF lead vocalist), the astonishing King Crimson’s Pat Mastelotto (drums), Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin (bass) and  Marta Sui Tubi’s Carmelo Pipitone (guitars). Each holds true mastery over their instrument and exude style and charisma beyond compare.

Progressive, in the true sense of the word without the associated overindulgence, these could perhaps be considered more experimental dark rock as no track exceeds four and a half minutes! Upping the experimental, artistic and intrinsic cool factor is the album art, created by TOOL’s Adam Jones, oh and the addition of the vocals of SOAD frontman Serj Tankian! Bass player Colin Edwin states

Ramagehead is a not a concept album as such, but there is certainly an identifiable theme, in that we attempt to express the everyday bewilderment bought about by the uncertain times we are living in, and the constant confusing information overload that we are all subjected to in today’s post-fact environment. We also wanted to harness the power, unpredictability and spontaneity of the O.R.k. live experience into a static recording whilst aiming for a high-resolution sonic space that can be revisited repeatedly by the avid listener to discover ever deeper layers.”

Kneel To Nothing commences with a reverse sounding choral ambience, dark. As above, so below. Somewhat discordant, with a hint of 90’s AIC/ Soundgarden. Unsurprisingly the percussion is outstanding as quite frankly everything else. A paean to the bands bewilderment of the modern world and its trappings

How we react to impulses, live our relationships, and feel in general has become deeply influenced by new tech. We all seem to be trying to outdo each other, we can’t get enough of this constant competition through social media, and it’s making us more insular in real life. … In a way we’re therefore “slaves”. it’s happening in a subtler, yet still potentially hazardous way. We have somehow we’ve become both devoted and addicted to our smart phones”

Signals Erased takes us pre-Seattle, to a folkier more progressive time. Synth driven, with disturbing screeching guitars and a mid tempo cyclical vibe that gets progressively heavier. Gentle acoustic picking opens Beyond Sight, a strong and emotionally stirring ballad elevated from most with the incredible rhythm and harmonies. Melancholic and deeply stirring it leads into the exquisite Black Blooms (feat. Serj Tankian, of System of a Down) slowly building in an epic worthy to compete against the greatest efforts of Roger Waters. The vocals are incredible, there is no showboating, just pure and simple awesomeness. Proggy and epic, with piano it is truly worth buying the albm for this track alone. Its good in isolation, but incredible as part of the whole. O.R.k bassist Colin Edwin explains that the collaboration with Serj Tankian came about through producer Bill Laswell (who played bass on Lef’s 2018 solo album Hypersomniac) passing on a copy to Serj and the discussion of a collaboration with Lef.

Lef sent him the tracks as a ‘work in progress’ and from this, Serj himself chose “Black Blooms” as the song he wished to sing and work with us on. The atmosphere was always going to be a great context for Lef’s vocals, but the biggest surprise was Serj Tankian’s involvement, which really amazed me when I first heard it, he’s added, not simply a great vocal performance, but the exact amount of extra depth to the framework, to turn it into something truly special, and if I didn’t know better, I would have thought “Black Blooms” was made with him in mind.

 

Time Corroded gently ups the pace and the euphoria with the addition of whimsical strings and its sense of empowerment despite circumstances. I personally adore the psychedelic yet sombre tones of this track which continues into Down The Road which is also acoustically driven. The harmonious serenity of the layered vocals, gives it a somewhat vintage feel which is the overthrown by elated the technically advanced progressive style that it metamorphoses so subtly into. Some Other Rainbow Part 1 is cute as buttons, a little retro a little Beatlesy/ Queensy crossed with the somewhat disappointing latest Lemon Twigs offering (Lemon Twigs Go To School) style of rock opera, which is interspersed by danceable rock of Strangled Words. Some Other Rainbow Part 2 is atmospheric, symphonic and delightfully incorporates all of the previous aspects and grandeur of both classic and contemporary artists in an emotional rollercoaster of delight.

A lean, mean classic rock/ prog machine.  Enjoy

Kneel To Nothing
Signals Erased
Beyond Sight
Black Blooms (feat. Serj Tankian)
Time Corroded
Down The Road
Some Other Rainbow Part 1
Strangled Words
Some Other Rainbow Part 2

Ramagehead was released on 22nd February on CD / 180g Black vinyl LP / Digital and is available to order here

O.R.k. have an extensive live campaign planned in support of Ramagehead which will begin in February 2019 with a European and UK head line run as well as being special guests on the continuing “Dissolution Tour” from new label mates The Pineapple Thief.

Catch you at the bar!

** show with The Pineapple Thief
15.2 Ravenna (IT) – Bronson
16.2 Lugagnano di Sona/Verona (IT) – Il Giardino
17.2 Pisa (IT) – Lumiere
21.2 Bari (IT) – Garage Sound
22.2 Roma (IT) – Largo Venue**
23.2 Milano (IT) – Santeria Social Club **
24.2 Pratteln (CH) – Z7 **
26.2 Stuttgart (DE) – LKA Longhorn **
27.2 Frankfurt (DE) – Batschkapp **
28.2 Strasburg (FR) – La Laiterie **
1.3 Zoetermeer (NL) – Borderij **
2.3 Hamburg (DE) – Grosse Freiheit 36 **
3.3 Copenhagen (DK) – Store Vega **
5.3 Stockholm (SE) – Nalen **
6.3 Oslo (NO) – Rockefeller **
8.3 Iserhagen/Hannover (DE) – Blues Garage
10.3 Cologne (DE) – Yard Club
12.3 Munich (DE) – Backstage
13.3 Budapest (HU) – Durer
14.3 Nove Mesto nad Vahom (SK) – Blue Note
15.3 Berlin (DE) – Music & Frieden
17.3 Paris (FR) – Petit Bain
19.3 London (UK) – Borderline
20.3 Newcastle (UK) – o2 Academy **
21.3 Glasgow (UK) – St. Luke’s **
22.3 Manchester (UK) – o2 The Ritz **
23.3 Birmingham (UK) – o2 The Institute 2 **
24.3 Bristol (UK) – SWX **

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